Having somewhere to call home is a basic human right. The Scottish Government wants to ensure that nobody has to face the blight of homelessness and everyone has a safe, warm place they can call home. 

The five-year Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan sets out how national and local Government, with third sector partners, are working to prevent homelessness in the first place and address people’s needs quickly when homelessness does happen.  It is backed by a £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund to support change on the ground so that people get the right help at the right time.  

The Action Plan responds to 70 recommendations made by an expert group – the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group. The group was set up by the First Minister and a report by the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee.  It is underpinned by the views of people with lived experience of homelessness who would like services to respond urgently and flexibly to people’s individual housing and support needs.


We are reducing and addressing homelessness by:

  • Considering, as part of a working group of experts and key partners, options for a new law ensuring all public bodies work together to prevent homelessness. The prevention duty group will make recommendations to us in summer 2020.
  • Taking a high level approach for the development and implementation of pathways to prevent homelessness for care leavers, women experiencing domestic abuse, veterans of the armed forces and patients leaving hospital.
  • Removing barriers to support which can hinder the prevention of homelessness and commencing the local connection and intentionality provisions in the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003.
  • Planning to overhaul and re-write the Statutory Code of Guidance for issue in 2021 so that it underpins the recommendations from HARSAG and reflects new legislative requirements and changes in practice.
  • Extending the Unsuitable Accommodation Order to all homeless households, with a view to it coming into force by the end of this Parliament. This will mean all homeless households should spend no longer than seven days in unsuitable accommodation such as B&Bs.
  • Supporting people by the Housing First programme, recognising that a safe and secure home is the best base for recovery.
  • Supporting every local authority to implement its rapid rehousing transition plan, which will ensure people who become homeless move to an appropriate, settled home as soon as possible.


Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 a person should be treated as homeless, even if they have accommodation, if it would not be reasonable for them to continue to stay in it.

Councils have a legal duty to help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. They do this by:

  • providing information and advice
  • offering temporary or permanent accommodation if circumstances warrant it

The homelessness statistics for 2018/19 were published in June 2019.  While there has been a 3% increase in homeless applications received since 2017/18, in the long term, applications have fallen 40% from a peak of over 60,000 in 2005/06.

Bills and legislation

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 introduced changes to existing homelessness legislation. It established the right to review a homelessness decision, and introduced a duty on registered social landlords (RSLs) to assist local authorities in rehousing homeless people.

The Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 outlined the provision that by 2012 anyone finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own must be entitled to settled accommodation (a council or housing association tenancy or private rental).

This amended the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 which defines the rights of homeless people and was enshrined in law in 2012 with the Homeless (Abolition of Priority Need Test) (Scotland) Order 2012. In 2012 the Scottish Parliament also passed secondary legislation on housing support regulations, requiring local authorities to assess the housing support needs of homeless applicants.


Email: Homelessness_External_Mail@gov.scot

Telephone: 0300 244 4000

Scottish Government Housing and Social Justice Directorate
Victoria Quay